Windhoek – A significant majority (66%) of Basotho would like to return to a one-party government, while 75% would also like to see the Constitution amended to allow the King to have more say on issues of national importance, according to the Afrobarometer 2017 survey.
This comes as a surprise as most African countries have moved away from one-party governments to more democratic multi-party systems since the late 1980s.
But respondents in the survey want Lesotho to switch from a proportional representation to a majoritarian electoral system in order to ensure a single-party government rather than a coalition government.
Three quarters (76%) of the Basotho believe coalition governments are more unstable and have more difficulties getting things done than one-party governments.
Another three quarters say the involvement of security forces in politics should decrease, while the majority welcome the involvement of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the country’s processes to reform its political system (63%), electoral system (60%), and security forces (67%).
The proportion of those who say the country should choose its leaders through regular, open, and honest elections plunged from 73% in 2014 to 48% in 2017.
The Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in Africa.
Similar sentiments were also observed in a survey done in Mozambique, where 63% of the respondents felt that democracy was not always preferable to other regime types and non-democratic alternatives were also acceptable.
“Not only are Mozambicans less supportive of democracy than most other countries, they also have become less opposed to non-democratic alternatives. While rejection of non-democratic alternatives increased between 2002 and 2008, it has become less common since,” read the report.
Mozambicans are also becoming more critical of the quality of their elections as only 52% agree that their most recent national election was free and fair; 32% believe that votes are “always” counted fairly and 33% say that opposition parties are “never” prevented from running.
The proportion of citizens who consider Mozambique “a full democracy” or “a democracy, but with minor problems” has declined to 42%, and only one in four respondents (23%) say they are satisfied with the way democracy works in their country – less than half the level of satisfaction recorded in 2002, the report stated.
Democracy also seems to be on the decline in many SADC countries, as Malawians, for instance, consider themselves free to say what they think, especially when it comes to politics.
However, more are being careful in expressing their views, while most say they do not feel free to criticise the president or security forces.
A significant majority (76%) of Malawians said that they do not feel free to criticise state officials and leaders such as the army (76%), the president (72%), and the police (65%).
In Mauritia, 71% of respondents said people “often” or “always” have to be careful about what they say about politics, as well as which political organizations they join (71%) and how they vote (73%).
A majority of Mauritians say they “would never” engage in certain lawful citizen actions to express dissatisfaction with the government’s performance.
About 3-in-10 Mauritians agree that freedom of speech and press freedom have declined compared to a few years ago, while sizeable minorities said their political freedoms have eroded over the past few years.
São Tomeans expressed remarkable mistrust of state institutions and leaders due to corruption.
Rural residents were more likely than their urban counterparts to trust the prime minister (52% vs. 44%), the National Assembly (32% vs. 28%), the Electoral Commission (34% vs. 30%), local government councils (32% vs. 28%), and the Ministry of Finance (29% vs. 24%), and are less likely to trust religious leaders (46% vs. 55%).
The majority of 71% of Zimbabweans surveyed reject military rule as an alternative to democracy and assert that the armed forces “must not be involved at all in the country’s politics”. Zimbabweans will go to the polls in presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections on July 30, 2018.
However, Zimbabweans place a measure of faith in democratic elections as a possible means of addressing the difficult economic situation and 83% of those surveyed preferred to “choose our leaders in this country through regular, open, and honest elections” rather than by “other methods.”
At least half of all adults interviewed (51%) voiced fear that they, personally, would “become a victim of political intimidation or violence” during the current political campaign, but many Zimbabweans hope that the election will produce a government that will put an end to the country’s slide into “economic penury”.
The people of eSwatini showed less approval of the performance of the leaders, with approval ratings for the prime minister (36%), their member of Parliament (37%), their local government councillor (28%, and their mayor (31%).
When it comes to trust levels in the State in core-executive institutions (the President, the Prime Minister), the army and the police, SADC shows a mixed bag of feelings from the lowest 33% trust expressed by São Toméans towards their government, while Namibia indicated the strongest approval of 75%.
The average approval rating for the 13 SADC countries surveyed is 57 %.